May 8th was the first ever UK national Advance Care Plan Day and to mark the occasion, founders Dani Ayre, Clare Fuller and James Norris hosted a conference in Norwich with a theme of ‘Getting your House in Order’.

Sammy Winemaker and Hsien Seow on stage
Sammy Winemaker and Hsien Seow

Open to in-person attendees and live-streamed to venues both in the UK and worldwide, I was honoured to be one of the guest speakers on a day crammed with opportunities for sharing knowledge and learning from a wide range of expertise in the room.

First up after the introductions were Sammy Winemaker and Hsien Seow who have created a concept of seven keys to support people navigate the healthcare system, upstream Advance Care Planning and empower people to ask the questions that matter. The seven keys are explored in season 1 of their podcast, the Waiting Room Revolution and are also set out in their book: Hope for the Best, Plan for the Rest. Sammy and Hsien had flown in from Canada for the conference and gave an entertaining and informative talk.

Next up was the inspirational speaker Tommy Whitelaw, National Lead for Person Centred Voices sharing his personal story and key messages of Intelligent Kindness and What Matters to You. At the end he had us all on our feet and singing – thank goodness we had a coffee break before I took to the stage!

Dinosaur round the corner
Zoe Harris, My Care Matters

Those familiar with the My Future Care project won’t be surprised to hear that I emphasised the importance of encouraging people to make plans earlier than tends to be the case.

The key to this is empowering people with the information they need and stressing, as the picture shows, that planning is not about our age or state of health—none of us knows what’s around the corner! Click here to watch my talk.

Usha Grieve on stage
Usha Grieve, Compassion in Dying

 

Usha Grieve from Compassion in Dying followed and discussed what advance decisions are, why people make them, how they help, what are the barriers to making one and the practicalities of how you make one. 54,000 have made their advance decisions with Compassion in Dying, and Usha highlighted the huge disconnect between 76% of people having strong wishes regarding the end of life and the 7% who currently actually communicate their wishes in advance!

I have to confess I rather expected a talk on the ethical and policy dilemmas in DNACPR to be somewhat dry, but Wayne Martin, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex managed to fascinate and intrigue the audience with some of his research findings from the Autonomy Project. It was shocking how many of us in the room assumed that CPR should never be performed if there is a valid DNACPR in place , when in fact it is a recommendation, not an order.

Zoe Harris and Clare Fuller in front of a My Future Care banner
Zoe Harris and Clare Fuller

After lunch, there were further talks by advance care planning expert Clare Fuller, who posed the question “Who would speak for you?” in an insightful presentation on considerations around putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, and James Norris from MyWishes, who challenged us to get our digital lives in order.

The conference concluded with a panel talk with Suzie Taylor, who lives with a cancer diagnosis, and Lou Grant, her consultant at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

You can watch videos of the entire day here.

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